ESPN Net Links U.S. Production Facilities With Zayo Group

With 24/7 production facilities located across the country and around the world, ESPN relies on a core fiber-optic backbone to share content quickly and efficiently.  That backbone, known as ESPN Net, is made possible in the U.S. by Boulder, CO-based Zayo Group.

A global provider of bandwidth-infrastructure services, Zayo Group supports ESPN Net’s domestic footprint — including fiber routes between New York and Bristol, CT, throughout the country and around Los Angeles — through its fiber network and 24/7 operations.

“It’s very solid technology we’re using that allows us to process and move media reliably, and there are some corporate services that ride along that as well,” says Emory Strilkauskas, principal engineer, transport technologies and special projects, ESPN. “For a broadcast company to take on an enterprise network is challenging, but it allows us to control the quality and a lot of flexibility for our daily workflow.”

ESPN Net enables production personnel to leverage ESPN’s massive libraries of content wherever they are, accessing footage when it’s needed.

“Our account team understood what was critical to the ESPN Net mission: the uptime, latency, and reliability of the service. Though not technically live programming, the content is needed on a real-time basis to insert into live programming or near-live postproduction,” says Ted Cier, media vertical director, Zayo Group. “We designed a private network for ESPN that would leverage Zayo’s extensive metro fiber on both coasts and utilize the optimum paths on our U.S. long-haul network to keep latency low and resiliency high.”

Zayo Group provides a dedicated 10-Gb wave network with fiber rings on the East and West Coasts. The East Coast ring extends from ESPN’s Bristol headquarters to 111 Eighth Ave. and 60 Hudson St. in New York and back to Bristol, providing real-time backup for the two locations. The West Coast ring connects ESPN’s production facility and data center in Los Angeles and serves as delayed backup for disaster recovery.

The original service was installed three years ago, and ESPN recently renewed the contract.

As ESPN makes inroads with cutting-edge technologies, Cier notes, the flexibility of the 10-Gb connection makes the current network relevant and scalable. “The network will need to have a 10-gig Ethernet port, which can be upgradable to multiple 10 gig or even 100 gig,” he says. “Zayo now has 100-gig completely provisioned between ESPN Net’s mission-critical production locations as well, so Zayo can upgrade networks quickly and easily as ESPN Net’s valuable content continues to grow in quantity and resolution.”

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